I never thought I’d say this, but thank God for Throwback Thursday.
Like the rest of humanity, I waste entirely too much time on Facebook, liking, uploading, and complaining. Every day I swear that I’m going to cut down on my Face time and every day I’m right back on the insidious social network service, clicking away like a set of castanets.
However, a recent Throwback Thursday, where people post old photos of themselves or their loved ones, brought back a fabulous 44-year old memory that I had totally forgotten.
Mary, an old friend, onetime neighbor and former grammar school classmate, had posted a photo of her late mother.
Now I love old photographs as they are just filled with stories, and, of course, seeing a friend’s golden oldies is even better. And this one was a real treasure.
As I looked at that photo I had this flashback to my grammar school graduation dance.
It was June 1971. Richard Nixon was in the White House and Our Lady of Angeles Catholic School in Brooklyn was giving its eighth graders a big sendoff in the gymnasium.
This was my first dance ever and I was feeling incredibly awkward as I watched the boys getting close with the girls under the big disco light.
I was confused. It seemed like just the other day having a girlfriend was a stigma, a source of shame that left one open to the merciless chant of “(Your Name Here) has a girlfriend!” or the equally awful “sitting in a tree” routine.
Now all of a sudden everybody’s hooking up like we’re on a sinking ocean liner. When did they change the rules? And why wasn’t I informed?
On The Clear Understanding
I don’t think I approached one girl the entire night. And late in the evening I was standing on the sidelines watching, just watching, all these young couples slow dancing, completely on the outside, like a chump.
That’s when Mary’s mother walked up and took me out for my only dance of the night.
I was stunningly clumsy, stepping on the poor lady’s feet repeatedly like an oaf and each time she told me not to worry about it. The dance ended, we all went home, started high school in that fall, and I never thought about the dance again.
Only now, looking back through the decades I can see that she felt badly for me and wanted to help any way she could.
Obviously as time goes by you will forget things, but it disturbs me that I can easily conjure up all the bad times in my life while beautiful moments like these sink without a trace to the bottom of my memory.
Your outlook will determine what you remember, so if you're depressed and miserable you'll probably have trouble recalling and enjoying the happy days.
This gesture was more than just an act of kindness. It was a reminder to get off the sidelines, where I still spend too much of my time, and join the dance.
Even more importantly, it’s a challenge for me to reach out to others. You can’t hoard kindness; it only gains value when you pass it on to someone else. So it’s up to me to approach the people on the edge of the dance floor and get them out to where the music plays.
I started last night during a MeetUp in Bay Ridge. One of the members seemed to be stuck on the outside of the conversation. On the way back from the gents I stopped by and asked him how he was doing.
It was a few only moments of my time, but it felt good and I'm sure Mary's mom would've been proud.